Michaela Bayerlova (Courtesy of Washington State University)Universal Tennis (UT): Michaela and Lisa, thanks so much for taking the time to chat! Michaela, How did you get started playing tennis? Michaela Bayerlova (MB): My dad played tennis and coached tennis, so he taught me when I was young.
"I grew up with tennis all around me so I played it all the time!"UT: Why did you choose Washington State? MB: I went on a couple of school visits, and I really loved the atmosphere, the team and the coaches. I felt really comfortable here and knew it would be a good fit. UT: What has been your career highlight so far? College highlight? MB: I can’t choose one - but I can choose three! I played in the Junior US Open, won the Czech championships and won two pro tournaments this past year. UT: What type of adjustment has it been for you to play on the college level? MB: The season has just started - we’ve only had two matches so far - but the biggest difference is that it’s a team event so we play for the team result. That’s different but otherwise, I play my tennis and try to win! UT: What tournaments are you most looking forward to playing this year? MB: Honestly, the whole season! UT: It seems like you have had a lot of success on the pro level. Why did you decide to compete at the college level? MB: I thought I can still improve my game and I haven’t had this experience playing in college. It’s so hard to break through in pro tennis, so if I want to go pro, I can do it after college. For sure - I’ll try! I’ll play tournaments and do my best but it’s hard! UT: How are you balancing playing college and futures? MB: So far, my coaches Lisa and Robin took me on pro tournaments in the fall and during the tennis season, I play the college matches. When we have breaks and I can go home to Europe, I’ll probably play some tournaments there. UT: What tips would you give to a player going out for college tennis? Or deciding between college and futures? MB: Take the opportunity to visit schools to see what it’s like and to meet the team and coaches. Players can always try the futures tournaments afterward. UT: What’s a day in the life of a WSU Cougar tennis player like? MB: Wake up, breakfast of course! Classes until noon, lunch, play tennis, weights and then do homework or stuff for school most of the time. It’s a hard day so when it’s over I just go to bed!
Michaela Bayerlova and Lisa Hart (Courtesy of Washington State University)Lisa Hart is entering her 15th season as the head coach at Washington State. She played college tennis at the University of Nebraska and after graduating stayed with the team as an assistant coach. She then because of the Head Coach at Virginia Tech where she stayed for three years before moving to Washington State. UT: When did you first notice Michaela? What did you like about her and her strengths? Lisa Hart (LH): The first time was in 2015 when my assistant coach saw her at a tournament. Right away, we knew she was someone we wanted to recruit. She was so competitive on the court, had a great demeanor and we loved how she carried herself. She seemed like a go-getter and a hustler, and we loved that about her. We kept following her and we became more and more impressed with her demeanor on the court and thought her all-around game would transfer well to college. We went all-in with her and did a home visit with her in the summer of 2016. We brought her on an official campus visit and she committed and signed in November and was on-campus in August 2017. UT: How do you see her contributing to the team? LH: Michaela is new to the team but she’s not new to tennis. She’s very intelligent on the court and we love the way she carries herself on and off the court. She doesn’t act like a freshman in that she’s been around the game the majority of her life.
"I truly believe she can beat anyone in the country."The other piece is that her personality is awesome. She’s very team-oriented and all about the team, which is fun to see in any player but really special to see in a freshman. You don’t have to teach her how to be a team player, which you do in many cases because tennis is such an individual sport. She arrived on campus with that team spirit which is awesome. UT: What do you look for in freshman players and college recruits? LH: For recruits, we obviously look at tennis level first. But we also look really closely at fit. Will this player fit into our program and what we believe in? What’s their personality like? And their potential? Are they excited and serious about tennis and want to get better, or are they looking for a scholarship and then to quit tennis? If that’s the case, those players won’t be successful here. UT: What do you look for when you build a team? What do you look for in players beyond tennis abilities? LH: We are all about working hard and quality over quantity. We expect lot of effort and a can-do attitude from our players. UT: What tips would you give to a player going out for college tennis? LH: Do your homework! Every program is so different - the culture, the coaches, the team. Often times, players decide they want to play for X school but they don’t take the time to actually discover what the school and the program is about. Really make an effort to find the right fit - sometimes people end up at places they never would have thought about because the program and team ended up being a great fit. Go on all your visits and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. UT: What’s your coaching style like? How do you motivate your players? LH: We try to make everything about effort and attitude. As long as our players are giving 100% and have a positive attitude, I’m happy. Winning and losing end up taking care of themselves as long as you can take care of the things you can control. That’s why we focus a ton on preparation in practice. On match day, we just let it happen. UT: How do your players balance academics and athletics? LH: We have a family at our school and an amazing support system, from our support staff, athletic department specialists and academic advisors. Everyone is willing to help the student-athletes. Our current players balance academics and athletics really well. But they do need to take some time for themselves! Get some sleep, hang out with friends. We have very driven kids right now in our program. UT: How do you balance players who want to play both at the collegiate level and in futures? LH: We hold a lot of individual meetings with our players. Collegiate tennis is for sure a team sport at the end of the day, but we also have players who want to go into the pros, so we spend a lot of time building a schedule for them. We are more than willing to take any of our players to professional tournaments in the fall as long as they can get in. Our team is made up of players from all over the world and we’re really close and supportive. For example, when Michaela won the tournament in Charleston, she got so many texts from her teammates. I’m really proud of where our team is in terms of supporting and encouraging one another. UT: How do you use UTR? What do you think of UTR? How do you see it improving the game? How would you like to see it evolve? LH: We love the UTR. We use it a lot in recruiting because it’s a good initial indicator of player skill and we are able to establish a range that we want players to fall under. UTR gets us in the door by helping identify the kids we want to look at, and from there we look at personal fit and the game we have. It’s interesting and I think it’s become more accurate over the past few years. At one point, I looked at it last year and our lineup was in the exact order of our players UTRs! Lisa Lightning Round Favorite tennis player? Serena Williams Most inspirational coach or athlete? My personal coach Forest Latham Favorite tournament? NCAA tennis tourney for sure! Toughest opponent? Stanford. They are dominant right now! Favorite school swag? WSU’s logo - we have the coolest logo of all the country and our colors are fantastic (crimson and gray)! Go Cougs! Favorite team bonding activity? We are all about holidays and birthdays. We love to celebrate on our team. Best nutrition advice? Hydration. I am all about staying hydrated! Best training advice? Always train your hardest - quality over quantity. Michaela Lightning Round What’s your killer shot? Forehand Singles or doubles? That's hard! Both! Forehand or backhand? Forehand Favorite tennis player? Roger Federer Favorite tournament? I don’t know! Clay or hard? Clay Racket? Babolat Aero Pro Favorite school swag? Ours of course! The logo is awesome. Best nutrition advice? Everyone knows whats good and what’s bad, so just follow the rules! Best training advice? Be motivated at every practice and always give your best.